5 Ways to Take CBD

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  • Cannabidiol (CBD) has soared in popularity as a treatment for many ailments, but it has only been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat two rare types of epilepsy. If you plan to try taking CBD for pain, anxiety, or other conditions, be aware that research has not yet validated the efficacy of CBD for these conditions.

    Many forms of CBD are available over the counter from a variety of retailers, from oil to gummies to nasal sprays and even bath bombs and CBD-infused chocolates. While the availability of CBD is becoming mainstream, the laws around cannabidiol are less clear. It’s technically illegal for CBD to be sold in foods, such as chocolate, smoothies or gummies, but enforcement has been inconsistent across different states. The FDA says it continues to work with local and state governments on how CBD should be sold and marketed under the current law.

    Still, there are many other ways to take CBD. As with any supplement, always talk to your doctor before using products with CBD, as cannabidiol can negatively interact with some prescription drugs.

  • 1
    CBD Oil
    bottle of medical cannabis oil

    The very first form of cannabidiol was an oil, and this remains a popular way to take CBD. CBD oil comes in a vial, sometimes with a dropper attached, and the oil can be taken by mouth, applied to the skin, or added to foods or beverages. Consult the label of the specific CBD oil product you’ve chosen for dosing instructions and methods for taking the oil. Sometimes CBD oil is labeled “CBD extract.” CBD oil is the purest form of cannabidiol.

  • 2
    CBD Nasal Spray
    Nasal spray for allergies

    CBD nasal spray delivers cannabidiol directly to the sinus tissues, which manufacturers claim delivers the CBD to the body rapidly due to the quick absorption of the active ingredient. These claims have not been verified through research. However, using CBD nasal spray does represent a convenient, portable method for taking cannabidiol. CBD nasal sprays may come in “regular” and “extra strength” versions. Be sure to review the dosage instructions carefully.

  • 3
    CBD Cream
    CBD cream made from medical cannabis sativa used for pain relief and various other ailments

    People seeking to use cannabidiol for pain relief may want to try a CBD cream or CBD balm. These products should be applied directly to the skin, similar to other over-the-counter arthritis relief creams and balms. In theory, the CBD is absorbed through the skin to deliver pain relief. CBD cream and balms offer a convenient way to take CBD without ingesting the cannabidiol. CBD creams come in a variety of strengths, so be sure to read the usage instructions and apply as directed to make sure you’re getting the right dose.

  • 4
    CBD Roll-on
    Roll-on bottle

    Another popular form of CBD for joint and muscle pain relief is the CBD roll-on, which offers a mess-free way to apply cannabidiol directly to the painful joints or muscles. Portable and discreet, CBD roll-ons can be easily transported and used anywhere. Simply roll the CBD oil onto the painful joint or muscles and await relief. Most roll-ons come with CBD plus added ingredients, such as aromatics, to enhance their scent and aid in pain relief.

  • 5
    CBD Bath Bomb
    CBD bath bombs on display in a dispensary

    The health benefits of soaking in a hot bathtub have been well studied. A warm bath can relieve stress and anxiety—and may even improve immune function. Dropping a CBD bath bomb into the water might also provide some pain relief, though these effects have not been studied. Most CBD bath bombs contain additional ingredients to cause carbonation, release scents, and generally deliver a blissful bath time experience. CBD bath bombs come with various concentrations of CBD oil. Choose the strength that works best for you.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Jan 21
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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  2. What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-need-know-and-what-were-working-find-out-about-products-containing-cannabis-or-cannabis
  3. Cannabidiol (CBD) – What We Know and What We Don’t. Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476
  4. FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-drug-comprised-active-ingredient-derived-marijuana-treat-rare-severe-forms
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